PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Several churches across the state of Oregon and some of their members are standing together in a lawsuit against Governor Kate Brown, claiming her executive orders violate their Constitutional rights.
The lawsuit was filed by ten churches and a number of people who attend or work at those churches. It includes churches from Baker City and Lincoln City to Portland.
“Churches and churchgoers are not willing to let their constitutionally protected religious right be infringed upon just indefinitely,” said Ray Hacke, a lawyer representing the group.
Hacke says those churches are suing because their rights under the First Amendment are being violated.
The group claims that Governor Kate Brown did not have the authority to infringe upon their right to gather at a church in the first place. But their lawsuit says that under the Oregon State constitution, Brown could only shut down the state for 30 days then would need legislative approval from there.
“If she wants to do it longer than that, she needs to go to legislature, get a three-fifth’s vote in each house and they will extend the time that way,” said Hacke.
They say since that didn’t happen, a judge should rule her executive orders unconstitutional and unenforceable.
“That would allow the churches to open back up. That would allow people to attend church free from fear that they’re going to be arrested or going to be fined,” Hacke said.
He says that the churches he represents are taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously. He says they should be allowed to determine for themselves what is best for their members.
“They certainly don’t want to endanger anybody, especially their elderly and more vulnerable populations and so, yeah, I think a lot of them would follow social distancing guidelines how they see fit,” he said.
Hacke says that churches in smaller communities with few cases and no deaths should be allowed to open immediately.
FOX 12 reached out to Gov. Kate Brown’s office for comment but did not hear back.
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